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Happy 100 Years North Coast Electric

A 1915 NCE Catalog & Early Memories

This story was submitted by Allen Kreymer, Kreymer Electric. Allen is the Founder of Kreymer Electric and has been an electrician for over 50 years. He worked with his father, who was also an electrician and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Mr. Kreymer joined the Air Force and became an aircraft electrician. When he left the service he worked for Boeing as an electrician and a few years later he couldn’t resist the urge to start his own business. At the young age of 82, Mr. Kreymer is still an active electrician and in his spare time writes stories.

Here is an NCE story typed by Mr. Kreymer and written in his own words:

If you look at the timeframe of this old North Coast Electric catalog cover, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that the early electrical industry was like striking gold. It took off in such a few short years, like a runaway freight train, but was well organized. In fact so well organized that that the catalog includes a 1915 National Electrical Code. It is amazing how similar the format of this code is today. It has tables for wire, conduit size, (and fill), grounding, and formula for almost every aspect of the electrical standard.

What really makes me wonder? Is how North Coast opened its doors in 1913 and grew to the size it would take to have a hard back catalog, 752 pages, with every electrical item known to the industry, in just three short years! Bear in mind their warehouse had every item in this book, and it all had to be shipped from the east by slow ship or train, then organized in the warehouse, and out to the customer.

HG Hardtke, the old electrician from whom the catalog came, must be North Coast’s oldest known customer. Can you visualize the challenge of moving material at that time, from downtown Seattle, down to Sumner, out to Orting, and finally to McMillin?! There was a railroad, or fast moving team of mules, but I am guessing four days to travel the distance and back. Hardtke remained in business until his death in the late fifties, and I will always be grateful to his family for giving me the catalog when they cleaned out his shop.

Over the years the book has been in my possession I have collected items listed and pictured in the pages. The items are too many to list here but I am compiling them now and will send the list with picture at a later date. The test equipment I have, almost for sure came from North Coast, are Thompson Alternating Ammeter and a West Direct Current Voltmeter, housed in their own wood carrying case. The instruments are made of polished brass, mounted on a beautiful walnut base. Washington Waterpower of Spokane, cleaned out an old warehouse, and these were rescued. Back before 1920 it is unlikely any other supplier in the west, but North Coast Electric would have stocked these.

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